Recognizing outstanding elderly citizens and LGUs

In Photo: Ricardo Carpio (left) and Rodrigo Evano

UPON retirement, many people would usually choose to leisurely spend their time and do things they could not do during their working years, such as going on long vacations, do gardening and quilting, and playing with their grandchildren.

In Photo: Oscar Retutar, Bernard Gutay Dante Pacheco, Linda Alcantara, Rodrigo De Guzman, Carmelita Lauraya (2nd Row L-R) Nelly Agag, Jun German, Angie Dimasupil (3rd Row L-R) Janice Madrid, Maricel Dacuycoy, Ernie Santos.
In Photo: Oscar Retutar, Bernard Gutay Dante Pacheco, Linda Alcantara, Rodrigo De Guzman, Carmelita Lauraya (2nd Row L-R) Nelly Agag, Jun German, Angie
Dimasupil (3rd Row L-R) Janice Madrid, Maricel Dacuycoy, Ernie Santos.

Some, however, choose to continue serving others even in their senior years.

These people never seem to tire of making the world a better place, even at an age when they are supposed to be resting at the comforts of their own homes. Some would take responsibility in taking care of their grandchildren, while others join the associations of elderly citizens in their barangays and help implement programs of their local government units (LGUs).

Outstanding elderly citizens

The BusinessMirror, in partnership with the United Bayanihan Foundation, RiteMed and CDO-Foodsphere, holds its Second Dangal (Dakilang Adhikain ng Ating Lahi) Awards for Elderly Care in recognition of the noble effort of the elderly who still choose to serve, despite their age, by making the lives of our senior-citizen community easier through different initiatives.

The awarding ceremony will be held on October 17 at the Genting Club in Resorts World Manila, coinciding with the BusinessMirror’s celebration of its ninth anniversary.

Ricardo A. Carpio

AT the age of 83, Ricardo “Carding” A. Carpio of San Mateo, Rizal, could not have done more for his fellow elderly citizens as he already has served them for almost two decades. Cliché as it may be, but for him “life goes on” so as his personal advocacy of helping others, especially those in their twilight years like him.

It was in 1996 when he started to dedicate himself to provide assistance to his counterparts as he became the vice president of Sta. Ana Senior Citizens Association Inc. Apart from the usual projects the organization had, what’s most memorable and selfless endeavor he had was when he bought out of his pocket over 100 chairs and offered them for lease to raise money for the association.

That simple, yet inspiring act no doubt had elevated him to the group’s presidency from 2004 to 2007. With his leading position, it gave him the privilege to work on a “bigger” project for the construction of the senior citizens’ building.

“Noong panahon na ’yon kung saan-saan lang nagmi-meeting ang federation ng senior citizens, kaya’t naisipan kong humingi ng tulong sa namayapang mayor ng San Mateo na si Jose ‘Peping’ Diaz na ama ng ating kasalukuyang mayor na si Jose Rafael Evangelista Diaz [During the time, the Federation’s meetings were held anywhere, hence, I thought of asking the help of our mayor then],” he recalls.

With the deceased local chief executive’s benevolence, the association was given a 500-square-meter lot in Gitnang Bayan Uno, San Mateo, Rizal. Luckily enough when he approached reelected Second District Representative Isidro S. Rodriguez Jr., the construction of the Federation of Senior Citizens Center was funded with P2 million and eventually completed in 2006. Now that he’s acting as an adviser for the organization, he also volunteers as the caretaker of such building.

“Natutawa po ako at nakakatulong pa din po ako sa mga senior citizens at sa mga mamamayan na nangangailangan. Hangga’t nabubuhay po ako, hinding hindi po ako magsasawang tumulong sa abot ng aking makakaya [I’m happy that I can still help my fellow senior citizens and others who are in need. I will not stop with it until my last breath],” Carpio says.

All his contributions—beyond his numerous accolades—are what he wants to leave as his legacy not only to his seven children and 21 grandchildren but also to the many people he has worked with.

Carmelita O. Lauraya

“GROWING old is God’s blessing, especially when you have reached this age,” says Carmelita “Chuchie” O. Lauraya, one of the most active elderly of Barangay Concepcion Dos in Marikina City.

A certified public accountant with a master’s degree in public administration, she served in various government offices in her younger years. But since 2002, she started being active in the community by committing in various elderly citizens organizations.

She founded the Senior Citizens Association of Concepcion Dos in 2002 and has since served as its adviser. She considers the organization’s constitution and by-laws as her greatest contribution. He also served as vice president of Diamond Citizens Association of Concepcion Dos Inc. in 2004 and president in 2006.

She also became the chairman of the barangay’s Office for Senior Citizens Affairs (Osca) in 2007, and the treasurer of Marikina City Federation of Senior Citizens Associations in the same year.

Nowadays, Lauraya spends her days praying; exercising; gardening; and helping in the planning and implementing of activities initiated by the Osca, such as outreach programs, visiting the sick and  social dancing.

Other programs of Marikina for the elderly include “Katas ng VAT” for 70 years old and above, social pension and mutual-aid fund.

“Guiding my children with love; wholeheartedly serving others, especially those in need and the elderly; and giving energy and strength to the sick and disabled—these are the things that give me ultimate happiness and inner peace,” Lauraya says. “I believe that the purpose of my life is to serve God, my family, and the community lovingly and unconditionally as long as I’m alive and capable.”

Cesar Villones

ANGONO, Rizal, surely finds blessing in Dr. Cesar Villones—a war veteran, a charitable dentist and citizen, a former government official, and an active leader among senior citizens not only in the municipality, but also in the whole province of Rizal.

Villones, who just turned 90 years old, served as the councilor of the municipality in 1956 to 1959 and 1969 to 1963, then vice- mayor of the municipality from 1971 to 1980 and 1993 to 1995. He also served the president of Barangay Santo Niño Senior Citizens Association in 1995, president of the Federation of Senior Citizens of Angono from 1995 to 2000; president of the Angono Youth Welfare Council; president of the Rizal Dental Society; and district commander of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines since 2010, among his many other affiliations.

He also received Distinguished Service Award in 1996, special citation for fighting drug addiction in the province of Rizal and Outstanding Citizen Award in 2008.

“When I started, there was no active organization servicing the veterans and elders,” he recalls. “This is why I initiated programs and activities. I asked help from my children—who were already in the States then—to send strips for diabetes, medicines and tools, among many others, to start servicing our elderly.”

“Since I am also a dentist, I also did dental services—checkups, cleaning, extraction, filling and even dentures—all for free. This is the reason why when you ask anyone in the municipality for a certain ‘Dr. Villones,’ they would almost always know where to lead you,” he shares.

He was also among those who pushed for the establishment of the municipality’s center for senior citizens and veterans, where they can hold meetings and other activities. “I am also an elderly, so I know and try to help with what they need,” he says.

To this date, Villones remains active in conducting lectures among the senior citizens to create awareness and implementing other programs of the municipality for the elderly. He is also active in conducting livelihood programs in the barangay, medical and dental missions province-wide, and “Parade Walk for Life” every month.

Ignacio Cruz

AN overseas Filipino worker in his peak years, Ignacio “Asiong” Cruz has dedicated his life to serving the community, particularly the senior citizen in Barangay Ugong in Pasig City, upon retirement.

Cruz—who takes pride in having four children who are all licensed professionals—served as the president of Ugong Senior Citizens Association (Usca) from 1997 to 2010, and now its vice president and officer in charge. He is also a member of Katarungan Pang-Barangay from 1997 to 2010.

“I’m doing my best to help the senior citizens of our barangay,” Cruz says, who was also named the Outstanding Senior Citizen of Pasig in 2003. The elderly of Barangay Ugong enjoy free antiflu vaccine, medicines, yearly P2,000, cake for their birthday, and activities to keep them fit and healthy, such as gardening, chess, bingo, darts, among others.

Cruz also initiated the Usca Walking Club and “Halaman sa Paso” program.

“I always remind them to always take care of themselves and, as a famous doctor said, ‘eat your medicine!’” Cruz laughs.

Rodrigo Evano

A FORMER principal of the Sacred Heart Academy in Oriental Mindoro, Rodrigo “Rudy” Evano of Barangay Manggahan in Pasig City has committed to a life of service even as a non-senior citizen. Now that he is in his retirement years, he is still dedicated to serving others.

Evano held the post of the president of Napico Senior Citizens Association (Nasca) from 1997 to 2011; president of the Federation of Senior Citizens of Pasig City Inc. (FSCAPCI) from 2005 to 2011; and executive vice president of DSWD Regional Senior Citizens Federation National Capital Region from 2008 to 2011. He has also initiated projects and programs aimed at making the lives of senior citizens better.

In 2002 he initiated the Halaman sa Paso project, which aims to help the city’s Clean and Green campaign by planting ornamental plants including vegetables in the so-called container gardening.

He also founded in 2007 the Nasca Memorial Plan, where for only P200 annually, the beneficiary of the deceased elderly can avail themselves of P6,000 financial benefit. He also founded the Junior and Senior Program, which aims to prepare the nonsenior for entry of being a senior citizen. Likewise, he also initiated the Gandang Lola program, as well as livelihood projects, annual field trips and visiting the sick. He also requested for the establishment of a senior-citizens office.

When he became the FSCAPCI president, he initiated bowling tournament for senior citizens, organized the Tai Chi Club and proposed to the city council to give the senior citizens a monthly allowance, among others. He also brought to the city-wide level the Gandang Lola program, which lolas eagerly joined.

Evano is also an inventor: he developed devices that would reduce dengue and fire, a model for train without rails, and “Jomath”—his most popular invention so far—a simple device made of a windowed pencil case that is of great help for pupils in mastering the 390 basic mathematical combinations. He used to visit elementary schools to promote this simple yet practical and enjoyable learning tool.

“I never want to stop because I know I will start to become weak when I do,” he says.

Outstanding LGU Programs for the Elderly

ASIDE from senior individuals who have dedicated their lives to service of others despite their age, local government units (LGU) that have outstanding programs for the elderly will also be recognized. This is aimed to inspire and encourage other LGUs to follow suit.

Cainta

TRUE to its root as one of the oldest municipality in the province of Rizal founded on August 15, 1571, Cainta never fails to show its love and support of the elderly constituents. A first-class urban town it is nowadays, the leadership sees to it that the oldies are always on top of its priorities in terms of social services.

In fact, according to Office for Senior Citizens Affairs (Osca) Head Nelie Agag, her fellows have been benefited by the various programs created for them by the municipality ever since Mayor Johnielle Keith Nieto assumed his position in 2013.

First of which, she cited, are the grocery items that Osca-registered seniors get on their natal day. To the convenient of the oldies, these goodies are delivered right at their doorsteps.

On top of the monthly social pension of P500 that the national government doles out to indigent senior citizens, the Municipality of Cainta itself, likewise, gives the equivalent amount to them, she added. What’s good about the additional P500 is that it is entitled to all those who are 80 years old and above, whether in need or not.

Beyond the monetary assistance, a better way of caring for the elders is guaranteeing their health condition, by which, the local government of Cainta provides through free hospitalization in state-run hospitals and supply of medicine. And to the departed ones, burial services and “decent resting place” for the deceased in public cemeteries are extended to the bereaved families pro bono.

“Marami na pong ipinagkaloob ang aming butihing Mayor sa aming mga katandaan sa Cainta simula ng siya ay manungkulan sa amin. Lubos po ang aming pasasalamat sa pagpapakita ng kanyang pagmamahal sa amin. [Our mayor has already given us elderly many benefits since he has taken the role of leading us. We thank him a lot for showing his love to us],” Agag says.

Marikina

THE local government of Marikina believes that the senior citizens hold a vital role in the city and has, therefore, different programs to address their needs and to encourage them to continue to live healthy and productive lives so they can share their wealth of experience in the task of city-building.

Rodolfo de Guzman, officer in charge of the Marikina City Federation of Senior Citizens Association, enumerates the projects and programs the city has come up with to take care of its elderly. “We were able to create programs that captured the interest of Marikina Senior Citizens to join and be active in the activities of Osca,” he says.

Among which are the free influenza vaccines for indigent senior citizens, which have reached 6000 recipients from 16 barangays; medical and dental mission activities; neuropsychological test for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease; social pension; and death and burial assistance.

Likewise, de Guzman says the elderly also enjoy physical fitness and cultural activities such as tai chi, line dancing, ground golf and tap dancing competitions. Leadership seminars and livelihood training such as paper crafting, candle making, and bead work are also conducted.

Moreover, a numbers of healthcare programs and benefits were held in the Lifestyle Center that is beneficial to its members like Philippine Health Insurance Corp. Membership Campaign and lifestyle modification lectures.

“It is worth noting that it is now being used by different convening groups that provide healthy physical ageing and livelihoods,” de Guzman says. “The programs created and being held in the Lifestyle Center targets to continue to help and promote healthy lifestyle and active ageing to its senior citizens members for them to enjoy life as they age.”

Parañaque

IN honor of the significant contribution of elderly citizens to community development and nation-building, Parañaque is gifting them with perks and privileges that they deserve.

Osca Director Dante Pacheco says the city government is taking care of its senior constituents by implementing different services to their advantage under the Mandatory, Essential, Hospice, and Care programs his office has initiated.

These are evident in the ordinance enacted into law by no less than Parañaque City Mayor Edwin L. Olivarez, giving financial benefits for the estimated 50,000 senior citizens under the so-called Senior Cash Transfer Program, as well as death benefit aids.

The ordinance, which officially took effect in January 2014, mandates the allocation of P27 million for the first year of the implementation to finance the cash transfers and death benefits. Thereafter, an amount of P29.5 million will be automatically appropriated for the succeeding years, with a provision of a 20-percent increase if deemed necessary by the implementing offices.

As per the ordinance, Pacheco says that the oldies get a P500 cash gift during their birthday and another P500 come the Yuletide season as their year-end cash gift. “Also included are grocery bags [as Christmas presents],” the Osca director says. “For next year, we have a budget of P47 million.”

Instead of the usual cake given in other cities, the local government of Parañaque provides a complete checkup during the birth month of a senior constituent, Pacheco says. He added that indigents are also granted free laboratory examination and PhilHealth coverage.

Through the issued Osca Cares Card resulting from the ordinance’s enactment, senior citizens are extended with privileges, such as discounts for medicine, transportation, restaurants and even in cinemas. The survivors of elderly who pass away, on the other hand, are entitled to at least P2,000 in death benefits.

The city government, likewise, has initiated various fora exclusively for senior citizens that promote health and nutrition, wellness, social and spiritual enhancements. It is for this reason that the City Heath Office of Parañaque is chosen by the Alliance of Healthy Cities in Western Pacific Region to present its good practices on how it takes good care of the elderly in its upcoming Global Convention in Hong Kong on October 29.

Muntinlupa

WHILE in the past most plans and programs of the city government of Muntinlupa were focused mainly on infrastructure and economic progress, the recent years saw the implementation of concrete initiatives for the different sectors, especially the aged population of around 30,000. These are anchored on holistic
approach to address the physical, mental and social needs of the elderly.

In the forefront of which is the Osca, led by Officer in Charge Maricel Labra-Dacuycuy. Through its partnership with the senior citizens associations in nine barangays, the Muntinlupa Advocacy on the Need for Older Person’s Program Opportunities (Mano Po) came into being that provides manifold benefits with the oldies.

For their health and wellness, medical missions, free eye checkup and walking aids, as well as portable medical kits for every barangay organizations have been provided. As for the social aspect, Osca has already distributed a monthly pension of P1,000 to at least 90-year-old residents. She said: “We have around 190 beneficiaries, regardless of their status. By next year, we expect to cover about 240 plus beneficiaries.”

In addition, the P15,000 monthly allowance given by the Office of Mayor  Jaime Fresnedi to community associations—apart from the P10,000 monthly allocation for the officers—is helpful also to fund the projects of 107 chapters of senior citizens’ groups in Muntinlupa. In fact, Labra-Dacuycoy noted that around P2 million has been released since the local chief executive was catapulted at the mayoralty seat last year.

Besides the free cinema viewing, members of the association’s chapters enjoy trips in the provinces of Rizal, Batangas, Laguna and Quezon for education and leisure, with provision of a bus for their comfort. Also, Osca regularly holds Senior Citizens Summits, in cooperation with United Laboratories Inc.

For these gatherings and other related-social events for the elderly and homeowners association for every
barangay, the city government allocates annually P5.9 million for the construction of a pavilion. It targets at least two buildings annually until 2016. For this year, three pavilions have already been built.

“Our budget allocation for Osca in 2014 is P9.2 million. And this coming 2015, we have P13.5 million. These only show how supportive is our city government to our senior citizens. Hence, on our part, we will further push our programs for the elderly,” stresses the OIC of Osca.

Janica Monick Riego and Roderick Abad

 

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